Duration: < 30 min
Difficulty Level: Easy
Group Size: < 20, 21 - 50
Level of interaction: High
Multilanguage fit: No
Preparation Time: Medium
Purpose: Knowledge Construction
Type of Online Events: Webinar, Hackathon, Workshop, Virtual Conference

Build collective ideas silently

Brainwriting is a non-verbal idea-generating method that uses ideas from a group of persons to address a specific query formulated by the facilitator. Like brainstorming, brainwriting allows a group to build a definition simultaneously but individually. In addition, this method allows the flow of ideas within a group, overcoming the tendency for judgment and personality clashes. In online practice, an online collaborative space is designed and divided into different areas or stations, where small groups will rotate after a certain time. While at specific stations, each group member contributes writing in thoughts and ideas to a set of questions written on Post-Its.

Use this method to:

  • Encourage clear definition of ideas or formulation of problems.
  • Promote and stimulate creative and critical thinking.
  • Support participants to overcome blocks.
  • Generate plans, approaches, or solutions to particular topics.
  • Gather input from all members of a group.

Steps to apply this method to:


  1. Define the topic or theme for this learning activity and the number and size of the groups.
  2. Develop categories for the topic or theme based on the number of groups.
  3. Create a set of questions based on the size of the groups.
  4. Define the tool you will use and familiarize yourself with its functionalities. 
  5. Design the online collaborative space with separate areas considering the number of categories and groups. 
    • Each station represents a category. Write the questions that you have prepared previously in single PostIts.


  1. Brief the participants and explain the learning activity.
  2. Introduce the topic or theme that will be explored.
    • Explain whether participants will generate ideas for designing a concept or develop ideas to solve a specific problem?
  3. Introduce 5 rules: All ideas are welcome, think outside the box, judgments are not accepted, a free flow of ideas is encouraged, and this exercise is intentionally silent.
  4. Introduce the tool to facilitate the learning activity. Include:
    • Name of the tool, participants’ requirements.
  5. Show the previously designed space without zooming into the content, and explain that:
    • Each group will have between 5 minutes per station to contribute in writing ideas or thoughts to a set of questions
    • Contributions are made individually.
    • Once the time is up, all groups move to the next station, rotating until all stations have been visited. 
    • Explain the order of the stations.
  6. Invite participants to join the online collaborative space and start the learning activity making sure that each group knows where to start and where to move next.

Allocate time in your session for participants to try the selected tool if they are unfamiliar with it.

Tool Tips

Facilitator tips

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